I don’t really like parties. Crowds of people making a fuss really aren’t my thing. Even though parties are good things all about celebrating an event or a person, I often end up feeling uncomfortable. When festivities are happening, I tend to turn into a busy bee in an attempt to find something to do to pass the time instead of actually celebrating.
A few years ago, in the weeks leading up to Easter, my church began talking about how Easter service was going to be a massive party. And I was a little perplexed by that. I have seen elaborate services, church productions, and a massive push of invites, but I can’t remember hearing anyone frame Easter as a party like my church was. And, they did not exaggerate, they threw a huge party. It was a lot of fun and people were welcomed in to join in the celebration of our God.
What a great representation of who God is: he loves us and is constantly inviting us to his celebration.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.” Matthew 22:2 (NIV)
Let’s just camp out here for a moment. This king loved his son so much that he wanted others to share in their joy. He wasn’t concerned about the optics or what others might say, he overflowed with so much joy that he couldn’t contain it any longer.
I believe God is the same way, he has prepared a joyful feast for us, a celebration of life and of his son, and he is inviting us in. We don’t need to prepare the food, we’re not being asked to bring a dish with us or pitch in for the tab—he’s got it covered, all we need to do is come.
“He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business.” Matthew 22:3-5 (NIV)
Can you imagine the king in this story for just a moment? He has everything prepared, he is ready to party with those he cares about and they just blow him off. He probably took such meticulous care with the guest list, the invites, the menu, and the games, but is disregarded. Instead of joyfully accepting his invitation, the people he loves refuse to come.
I wonder how many times we refuse God’s invitations in our lives.
The parables Jesus told about the Kingdom remind me of how welcoming and inviting God is. He doesn’t exclude us from his presence or his joy, he wants us to experience life with him. He longs for us to run to him. He desires us to live like him.
But often the Kingdom doesn’t look how we want it to, so we might miss the opportunity. Or we might decline the invitation thinking that our time will be better spent elsewhere. We miss the celebration of God’s goodness because we’re so focused on our work, our problems, or our comfort.
Thankfully, God is persistent in his invitations to us. He continues to send them even if we missed one or two or twelve thousand. Let’s choose to be still and silent so we can receive what he has for us. Let’s make room for that still small voice and be ready to respond when he speaks.
In the Kingdom, there is an abundance of joy; let’s not miss God’s invitation into his celebration today!
How have you experienced God’s joy?
How can you make space to meet with him today?